Actor Shia LaBeouf’s participatory Internet streaming performance installation called “HeWillNotDivideUs” has come to a premature end after the museum where the installation was hosted decided to remove it citing “serious public safety hazards.” The Museum of The Moving Image, where the installation was hosted, issued a press release in which it detailed the reasons it chose to remove the installation, Engadget reports.
An excerpt from the press release explained the shutdown.
“The Museum of the Moving Image has closed HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US, a participatory Internet streaming performance by LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner. The installation created a serious and ongoing public safety hazard for the Museum, its visitors, staff, local residents, and businesses. The installation had become a flashpoint for violence and was disrupted from its original intent.”
— CNN (@CNN) February 10, 2017
Museum authorities alleged that the installation had become a flashpoint for violent protests, following which they were compelled to station police officers next to it 24 hours a day.
The press release continues.
“While the installation began constructively, it deteriorated markedly after one of the artists was arrested on the site of the installation and ultimately necessitated this action. Over the course of the installation, there have been dozens of threats of violence and numerous arrests, such that police felt compelled to be stationed outside the installation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Museum officials said they also had a commitment to the safety of more than 200,000 annual visitors.
“We take our commitment to the safety of our 200,000 annual visitors and 50,000 school children attending programs at the Museum seriously, along with the safety and security of our staff and community.”
— Gotham City Esq. (@Gothamcityesq) February 10, 2017
The project commenced on January 20, 2017, the same day Donald Trump was inaugurated the 45th President of the United States. As per the original plan, Shia LaBeouf’s installation would have live streamed the text “HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US” continuously for the entire duration Trump would remain President. The installation was supposed to remain open to all, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It was born out of a collaboration between LaBeouf and artists Luke Turner and Nastja Sade Ronkko. According to Shia and others behind the project, the installation was “a show of resistance or insistence, opposition or optimism, guided by the spirit of each individual participant and the community.”
The website of the installation described it as follows.
“Commencing at 9am on January 20, 2017, the day of the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States, the public is invited to deliver the words “HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US” into a camera mounted on a wall outside the Museum of the Moving Image, New York, repeating the phrase as many times, and for as long as they wish. Open to all, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the participatory performance will be live-streamed continuously for four years, or the duration of the presidency. In this way, the mantra “HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US” acts as a show of resistance or insistence, opposition or optimism, guided by the spirit of each individual participant and the community.”
Last month, Shia was arrested by police near the same installation after he was caught on camera getting into a scuffle with a visitor with divergent views. LaBeouf was charged with misdemeanor assault and a harassment violation and was released later. Following the decision to remove the installation, the exhibit’s website, which was supposed to live stream the project for the entire duration of Trump’s presidency, replaced the video stream and now displays the following text.
“The museum has abandoned us.”
There was no official statement from the people behind the project. They did indicate that the project would go on. A line of text added to the home page of the installation stated, “On February 10, 2017, the Museum of the Moving Image abandoned the project. The artists, however, have not.”
[Featured Image By Evan Agostini/Invision/AP Images]